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ARCdoc builds on past experience

June 13, 2011

The ARCdoc project is innovative in its attention to ships’ logbooks from the Arctic regions, but logbooks have been a subject of growing interest for the past decade. They provide an unrivalled source of detailed, often daily, information for the climate of the oceans over the past three centuries. The first coordinated attempt to establish the true scientific character of these often venerable documents was the CLIWOC project (Climatological Database for the World’s Oceans:1750 to 1850). This project was funded by the European Union and included many of the team members of ARCdoc. It’s website can be found at http://www.ucm.es/info/cliwoc/ where the datbase and much additional information can be accessed free of charge. As the project title suggests, concern here was with global scale data assimilation and it used, for that purpose, logbooks from the UK, Spain, France and the Netherlands all of whose imperial powers once extended widely across the planet. More recently the CORRAL (UK Colonial Registers and Royal Navy logbooks) paid closer attention to the logbooks of the great voyages of discovery undertaken by British explorers such as Cook, Flinders and Bligh. These logbooks were imaged in their entirety recognising their historical as well as scientific importance, and can be found at http://www.corral.org.uk/ . It is on the basis of this earlier work that we have now turned our attention to the study of the Arctic region and the remarkable legacy of documents that chronicle human endeavour in this inhospitable region.

A page from the logbook of the Hull whaler "the Eagle". this is typical of the time with details of the whales caught but also, importantly, the weather and sea ice conditions at the time.

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